Len garners ACC, NBA attention

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Len garners ACC, NBA attention

In case there was any doubt, Alex Len's performance Friday in Maryland's 72-69 loss to No. 3 Kentucky generated some attention.

In the here and now, the ACC named Len its Player of the Week after the 7-foot-1 center established career highs with 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Wildcats. Seven of the sophomore's boards came on the offensive end and overall Len hit on 10-of-18 from the floor in 32 minutes. For good measure he tacked on four blocks, which matched a career high.

Len's performance against a Kentucky frontcourt loaded with NBA prospects, including heralded freshman center Nerlens Noel, also raised his professsional upside in the minds of talent evaluators.

"Len made himself a lot of money Friday," ESPN Draft analyst Chad Ford said in an Insider column posted Monday. "He had career highs in points (23) and rebounds (12) against the No. 1 player on our Big Board (Noel) and established himself as a potential elite big man prospect in this year's draft."

Ford noted Len's "mixed bag" of a freshman season, which included moments of brilliance followed by games with "almost nothing on either end." That was then

"This season he has added strength and appears to be more confident," Ford wrote. "Equally important is the fact that, with gunner Terrell Stoglin gone, it appears as if Mark Turgeon is finally going to run the offense through Len. If he can keep this up all season, scouts predict he'll go very high in the 2013 NBA draft."

One NBA GM told Ford, "If Enes Kanter can go No. 3 and Jonas Valanciunas No. 5 in a much stronger draft, Len should be able to easily crack the top five if he's going to play like that all year. He's 7-foot-1, is athletic, rebounds, block shots and has offensive skills, and he's producing against legit NBA talent. Those guys don't come along very often."

No they don't, which is why Maryland fans are thrilled to have Len on campus - and hope he sticks around for a while.

A call, an embrace, and tears: Terps' Davis is a Steeler

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A call, an embrace, and tears: Terps' Davis is a Steeler

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends and family of Sean Davis gathered, packed in some places nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, in a Northeast D.C. restaurant on Friday night. Televisions were tuned to the NFL Draft. There was music. There was food, conversation and laughter.

But Davis was in a separate room, much quieter, with his agent and his high school coach. He had retreated there to cool off and calm his emotions after putting forth a sense of composure while greeting as many family members as possible earlier in the night -- though inside, his nerves were taking hold.

Of course, there were the questions from those friends and family. Where was he going? Where did he think he was going? How was he feeling?

In this room, there was none of that. He just sat and watched.

The Washington Redskins, the team Davis has loved since his childhood, took hybrid linebacker Su’a Cravens out of USC with the No. 53 overall pick.

Then, as he held his cell phone in his hand in that room, it happened.

“I felt it vibrate and I looked down and see the 412 number and know that’s Pittsburgh and I was like, ‘Is this like a telemarketer or something? It’s the wrong time to be calling,” Davis recalled to CSN on Friday night with a radiant smile. “I answered and it was Coach [Mike] Tomlin.”

Tomlin told Davis that the Steelers intended to select him with the No. 58 overall pick. He welcomed the former Terrapin to the team. As Davis recalls, there was probably very little he said in the way of a coherent sentence – overcome by the moment and grasping for words that felt like they came out peppered with stutters and stammers.

This from a guy who speaks three languages.

Word of the Steelers selecting Davis had been announced to the crowd in the restaurant, but the pick had yet to air on television and Davis had not yet emerged from the room in which he had been sitting.

Anticipation built until Davis walked through the door leading into the restaurant. The crowd erupted and he was met by his brother Isaiah, a linebacker on Maryland’s football team, with a powerful hug. The two embraced and the newest Steeler buried his head into his brother’s shoulder as tears began to stream down his face.

His father and mother joined in before Isaiah yelled out to the crowd.

“We made it, baby!”

And now, a chance to contribute to a team that is routinely a playoff contender.

“When I took my visit out there, I could just tell everyone was about their business and everyone’s goal was getting that Lombardi Trophy again,” the former Terrapin Davis said.

“I’m very happy to wear that black and yellow now.”

Sean Davis selected in second round of 2016 NFL Draft

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Sean Davis selected in second round of 2016 NFL Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Maryland defensive back Sean Davis in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the No. 58 overall pick, as announced on Friday night in Chicago.

After playing three years at safety for Maryland, he was shifted to cornerback because of team need as a senior. At the NFL level, he is more ready to play safety, but his size and length means he has upside as a cornerback as well.

In that sense, Davis has both the upside projection that teams covet (playing cornerback), yet also has the proven production at the college level as a safety and on special teams.

Davis had over 100 total tackles per season as both a sophomore and junior. He tallied 88 while playing primarily cornerback during his senior year. Also as a senior, he picked off three passes and forced five fumbles.

Already seen as a strong prospect, it was his showing at the NFL Draft Combine that helped to boost Davis’ stock after posting a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash, 21 reps in the bench press, and a 126-inch broad jump.

The bench press and broad jump measured among the best at the Combine at his position.

Maryland's Yannick Ngakoue selected in third round of 2016 NFL Draft

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Maryland's Yannick Ngakoue selected in third round of 2016 NFL Draft

The Jacksonville Jaguars have selected Maryland pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue in the third round round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the No. 69 overall pick, as announced on Friday in Chicago..

Ngakoue, who came to Maryland as a highly regarded local recruit from Washington, D.C. powerhouse Friendship Collegiate, played both outside linebacker and defensive end at Maryland.

Under defensive coordinator Brian Stewart during his first two seasons, he played linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Under defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski in 2015, the program switched to a 4-3 scheme and he shifted to defensive end.

The result? Ngakoue broke the school’s single-season sack record by taking down the quarterback 12.5 times.

The 2016 draft is especially deep along the defensive line and loaded with pass rushers in general, which likely pushed Ngakoue to be selected where he was. Still, he can be a value pick.

There are few skills as coveted in the NFL today than pure pass rushers and that is the area within which Ngakoue specializes.

The Jaguars have had a run on defensive players in this draft, taking Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey in the first round and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack in the second round to go along with Ngakoue in the third.